I was late in sending this editorial to the paper. I’m sharing here because life intersects work and the work I do causes me to reflect.
And I know its Friday night and there’s football and festival tomorrow. So, not to be serious to the point of being avoided.
Just serious enough to say….if you know someone who has lost all hope, just stay close, ask important questions and remind them to hope for the far better things ahead than what they’d be leaving behind…and if they don’t believe you…hang in there until you both see the hope you waited for, held on for.
I’d like for you to know that I know very little really about suicide.
But, the one thing I know is that the one who chooses suicide is choosing out of hopelessness, this is the only consistent thing I have seen and heard, the loss of hope. Here are my thoughts, efforts to help others understand.
A Walk for Hope
On Sunday afternoon, I’ll go for a walk at O’Dell Weeks. I’ll be joined by members of the Board of Directors of MHA Aiken County along with Coalition for Suicide Prevention colleagues who have joined in a commitment to prevent suicides, increase awareness and support. Most importantly, I’ll be greeted with hugs, smiles and tears from many cherished friends. Since 2011, I have become friends with many people who have bravely and brokenly shared their story of the person they loved, still love who decided suicide was the answer to the question they were burdened, completely overwhelmed by. In my professional lifetime, I’ve encountered many tough realities of life. The grief following suicide is unique, complicated and impactful.
Yesterday, within just an hour or so, I took two phone calls. The first, the father of a 17 year old daughter, who said to me “There’s no way you can know what I’m going through.” So, I listened for almost a half hour to the distress of a father not wanting to give up on his child, yet feeling there was little hope. I was able to make referrals and follow up that the connection was made for what may be her turning point, his hope for his daughter. About another half hour later, a wife called. Her husband, a 53 year old man, unable to work, living on disability and in her words “tired of being a burden” to his family had mentioned to her that he “needed to talk to someone.” I listened as she shared the series of events that led to her 53 year old husband being physically disabled and now emotional and mentally in a place of hopelessness. I asked her the hard question; the one that must be asked, “Has he talked about suicide?” She answered calmly that he has. I made recommendations for immediate steps, put some referrals in place and as with the father earlier asked that they call me back to let me know how things are going, what else I might be able to help with. Both callers thanked me for my time, for listening, for giving them something to hope might bring a change. These type calls happen regularly and illicit an intentional response because the details of hopelessness are markedly similar to stories I’ve heard before. They are like the stories of the Survivors of Suicide Loss shared in our monthly group as they recall the time before the death of their loved one; circumstances are unraveled and pondered in an effort to understand.
Later in the day, I saw a quote on someone’s Facebook page, a C.S. Lewis quote. I thought of the callers, of the people they loved and of the condition of hopelessness. C.S. Lewis reminds, assures, and beckons us to believe “There are far better things ahead than what we leave behind.” I thought of all who will walk on Sunday and their longing for the chance to say to the one they loved, “Be hopeful. This is temporary. There are better things ahead. Don’t leave us behind.”
I walk for and with the brave survivors who would say to each of us “Remind those you love of hope over the hopelessness of what they see as an insurmountable circumstance”. I am walking for hope on Sunday. Join me if you will.